New book on WordPress Theme Development: WordPress Themes In Depth

Perishable Press HTAccess Spring Cleaning, Part 1

While developing the 3G Blacklist, I completely renovated the Perishable Press site-root and blog-root HTAccess files. Since the makeover, I have enjoyed better performance, fewer errors, and cleaner code. In this article, I share some of the changes made to the root HTAccess file and provide a brief explanation as to their intended purpose and potential benefit. In sharing this information, I hope to inspire others to improve their own HTAccess and/or configuration files. In the next article, I will cover some of the changes made to the blog-root HTAccess file. As always, suggestions and questions are always welcome — […] Read more »

Improve Site Security by Protecting HTAccess Files

As you know, HTAccess files are powerful tools for manipulating site performance and functionality. Protecting your site’s HTAccess files is critical to maintaining a secure environment. Fortunately, preventing access to your HTAccess files is very easy. Let’s have a look.. Different Methods If you search around the Web, you will probably find several different methods of protecting your HTAccess files. Here are a few examples, along with a bit of analysis: Case-sensitive protection — As far as I know, this is the most widespread method of protecting HTAccess files. Very straightforward, this code will prevent anyone from accessing any file […] Read more »

Perishable Press 3G Blacklist

After much research and discussion, I have developed a concise, lightweight security strategy for Apache-powered websites. Prior to the development of this strategy, I relied on several extensive blacklists to protect my sites against malicious user agents and IP addresses. Over time, these mega-lists became unmanageable and ineffective. As increasing numbers of attacks hit my server, I began developing new techniques for defending against external threats. This work soon culminated in the release of a “next-generation” blacklist that works by targeting common elements of decentralized server attacks. Consisting of a mere 37 lines, this “2G” Blacklist provided enough protection to […] Read more »

Building the 3G Blacklist, Part 5: Improving Site Security by Selectively Blocking Individual IPs

In this continuing five-article series, I share insights and discoveries concerning website security and protecting against malicious attacks. Wrapping up the series with this article, I provide the final key to our comprehensive blacklist strategy: selectively blocking individual IPs. Previous articles also focus on key blacklist strategies designed to protect your site transparently, effectively, and efficiently. In the next article, these five articles will culminate in the release of the next generation 3G Blacklist. Improving Site Security by Selectively Blocking Individual IPs The final component of the 3G Blacklist establishes a vehicle through which individual IPs may be blocked. As […] Read more »

Building the 3G Blacklist, Part 4: Improving the RedirectMatch Directives of the Original 2G Blacklist

In this continuing five-article series, I share insights and discoveries concerning website security and protecting against malicious attacks. In this fourth article, I build upon previous ideas and techniques by improving the directives contained in the original, 2G Blacklist. Subsequent articles will focus on key blacklist strategies designed to protect your site transparently, effectively, and efficiently. At the conclusion of the series, the five articles will culminate in the release of the next generation 3G Blacklist. Improving the RedirectMatch Directives of the Original 2G Blacklist In the first version (2G) of the next-generation blacklist, a collection of malicious attack strings […] Read more »

Building the 3G Blacklist, Part 3: Improving Site Security by Selectively Blocking Rogue User Agents

In this continuing five-article series, I share insights and discoveries concerning website security and protecting against malicious attacks. In this third article, I discuss targeted, user-agent blacklisting and present an alternate approach to preventing site access for the most prevalent and malicious user agents. Subsequent articles will focus on key blacklist strategies designed to protect your site transparently, effectively, and efficiently. At the conclusion of the series, the five articles will culminate in the release of the next generation 3G Blacklist. Improving Site Security by Selectively Blocking Rogue User Agents Several months ago, while developing improved methods for protecting websites […] Read more »

Building the 3G Blacklist, Part 2: Improving Site Security by Preventing Malicious Query-String Exploits

In this continuing five-article series, I share insights and discoveries concerning website security and protecting against malicious attacks. In this second article, I present an incredibly powerful method for eliminating malicious query string exploits. Subsequent articles will focus on key blacklist strategies designed to protect your site transparently, effectively, and efficiently. At the conclusion of the series, the five articles will culminate in the release of the next generation 3G Blacklist. Improving Site Security by Preventing Malicious Query String Exploits A vast majority of website attacks involves appending malicious query strings onto legitimate, indexed URLs. Any webmaster serious about site […] Read more »

Building the 3G Blacklist, Part 1: Improving Site Security by Recognizing and Exploiting Server Attack Patterns

In this series of five articles, I share insights and discoveries concerning website security and protecting against malicious attacks. In this first article of the series, I examine the process of identifying attack trends and using them to immunize against future attacks. Subsequent articles will focus on key blacklist strategies designed to protect your site transparently, effectively, and efficiently. At the conclusion of the series, the five articles will culminate in the release of the next generation 3G Blacklist. Improving Site Security by Recognizing and Exploiting Server Attack Patterns Crackers, spammers, scrapers, and other attackers are getting smarter and more […] Read more »

Universal www-Canonicalization via htaccess

During my previous rendezvous involving comprehensive canonicalization for WordPress, I offer my personally customized technique for ensuring consistently precise and accurate URL delivery. That particular method targets WordPress exclusively (although the logic could be manipulated for general use), and requires a bit of editing to adapt the code to each particular configuration. In this follow-up tutorial, I present a basic www-canonicalization technique that accomplishes the following: requires or removes the www prefix for all URLs absolutely no editing when requiring the www prefix minimal amount of editing when removing the www prefix minimal amount of code used to execute either […] Read more »

Blacklist Candidate Number 2008-04-27

Welcome to the Perishable Press “Blacklist Candidate” series. In this post, we continue our new tradition of exposing, humiliating and banishing spammers, crackers and other worthless scumbags.. Since the implementation of my 2G Blacklist, I have enjoyed a significant decrease in the overall number and variety of site attacks. In fact, I had to time-travel back to March 1st just to find a candidate worthy of this month’s blacklist spotlight. I felt like Rod Roddy looking over the Price-is-Right audience to announce the next name only to discover a quiet, empty room. And then like Bob gets pissed that nobody […] Read more »

How to Block Proxy Servers via htaccess

Not too long ago, a reader going by the name of bjarbj78 asked about how to block proxy servers from accessing her website. Apparently, bjarbj78 had taken the time to compile a proxy blacklist of over 9,000 domains, only to discover afterwards that the formulated htaccess blacklisting strategy didn’t work as expected: deny from proxydomain.com proxydomain2.com Blacklisting proxy servers by blocking individual domains seems like a futile exercise. Although there are a good number of reliable, consistent proxy domains that could be blocked directly, the vast majority of such sites are constantly changing. It would take a team of professionals […] Read more »

Three Unsolved WordPress Mysteries

After several years of using WordPress, I have at least three unanswered questions: What’s up with the WordPress PHP Memory Error? Why do certain phrases trigger “Forbidden” errors when saving or publishing posts? What happened to the Plugin Pages in the WordPress Codex? Let’s have a look at each one of these baffling mysteries.. Read more »

Content Negotiation for XHTML Documents via PHP and htaccess

In this article, I discuss the different MIME types available for XHTML and explain a method for serving your documents with the optimal MIME type, depending on the capacity of the user agent. Using either htaccess or PHP for content negotiation, we can serve complete, standards-compliant markup for our document’s header information. This is especially helpful when dealing with Internet Explorer while serving a DOCTYPE of XHTML 1.1 along with the recommended XML declaration. According to the RFC standards 1 produced by IETF 2, web documents formatted as XHTML 3 may be served as any of the following three MIME types: Read more »

Redirect WordPress Feeds to Feedburner via htaccess (Redux)

In a previous article, I explain how to redirect your WordPress feeds to Feedburner. Redirecting your WordPress feeds to Feedburner enables you to take advantage of their many freely provided, highly useful tracking and statistical services. Although there are a few important things to consider before optimizing your feeds and switching to Feedburner, many WordPress users redirect their blog’s two main feeds — “main content” and “all comments” — using either a plugin or directly via htaccess. Here is the htaccess code as previously provided here at Perishable Press: Read more »

Custom HTTP Errors via htaccess

We all know how important it is to deliver sensible, helpful 404 error pages to our visitors. There are many ways of achieving this functionality, including the well-known htaccess trick used to locally redirect users to custom error pages: # htaccess custom error pages ErrorDocument 400 /errors/400.html ErrorDocument 401 /errors/401.html ErrorDocument 403 /errors/403.html ErrorDocument 404 /errors/404.html ErrorDocument 500 /errors/500.html ..and so on. These directives basically tell Apache to deliver the designated documents for their associated error types. Many webmasters and developers employ this trick to ensure that visitors receive customized error pages that are generally more user-friendly or design-specific than […] Read more »

Blacklist Candidate Number 2008-03-09

Welcome to the Perishable Press “Blacklist Candidate” series. In this post, we continue our new tradition of exposing, humiliating and banishing spammers, crackers and other worthless scumbags.. Imagine, if you will, an overly caffeinated Bob Barker, hunched over his favorite laptop, feverishly scanning his server access files. Like some underpaid factory worker pruning defective bobble heads from a Taiwanese assembly line, Bob rapidly identifies and isolates suspicious log entries with laser focus. Upon further investigation, affirmed spammers, scrapers and crackers are swiftly blacklisted from future access. For the most heinous offenders, we suddenly hear Rod Roddy’s guzzling voice echo throughout […] Read more »